Of course, I imagine high-fructose corn syrup is safe in moderation. If I get up from my desk right now, shotgun a soda, and never drink another one, I don’t expect to keel over from corn poisoning. But if I do what most Americans seem to be doing, and drink that one soda now, another in an hour, and another an hour after that, pretty soon those empty calories will add up. Then I’ll have a problem on my hands… or around my middle’s more like it.
While the affable fellow in the Corn Refiners ad can’t get his words out, there is a clear answer to the question that’s harshing on his otherwise-great date: “What’s so bad about high-fructose corn syrup?” As any nutritionist will tell you, if you flood your body with empty calories and don’t work them off, you’re bound to put on weight. Put on too much weight, and you’re bound to see health consequences: obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney and liver problems. High-fructose corn syrup is a mighty good way to pack in the empty calories, too: a twenty-ounce soda contains 250 of them, and hardly a lick of food value.
It’s old news that obesity is exploding: rates in this country have more than doubled since the 1970s. (Coincidentally, soft drink consumption has doubled since ‘71). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three American kids born in the year 2000 is now on a path to develop Type II diabetes. With half of all obesity-related medical costs being shouldered by publicly funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid, it seems that preventative medicine will be an important tool in fixing our health-care crisis.
What’s the number one cause of preventable death in America? Tobacco. Number two? Obesity. We figured out the tobacco part back in the ‘60s, got a lot of people to quit smoking, and saved a bundle of money and lives as a result. But it’s worth remembering that King Tobacco put out some nice commercials in their day, too. Their argument? Everything’s fine in moderation.